« PreviousContinue »
IsMAEL, flying from the power of Jacoob, took refuge with the chief of a small territory on the southern borders of the Caspian sea, named Pyrchales.” Some of the friends of Hyder retired at the same time into lesser Armenia, then subject to the Turks, where they promulgated their doctrine with success. Their disciples were distinguished by a red band tied over the turban, whence it is said they first obtained the appellation of Kussel Bash, which, in the Turkish language, as has been already noticed, signifies red head. Ismael, during his retirement, advanced, with zeal, the tenets of his father; and being by nature conspicuously eloquent, of a penetrating genius and austere life, of a comely person and invincible courage, was, by the vulgar, counted more than human. The nobles of the neighbouring country, allured by the endowments of Ismael, and the specious novelty of his doctrine, resorted to his place of abode with offers of support; and, though seeming to shun them, he was invested with authority, honours, and wealth. In token of his rare qualifications, and a belief in his power of prophecy, Ismael received the title of Sofi, “which,” saith Knolles, “signifieth, among
these people, a wise man, or the interpreter of
the Gods. f*
* So expressed by Krolles. -
The death of Jacoob, which must have happened at an early period of his reign, and the tumults that ensued in Persia, then usurped by one El van Beg, who %vas also engaged in a warfare with his brother, named Morad, encouraged Ismael to urge his fortune on so promising a field. Obtaining some military aid from Pyrchales, his first protector, he penetrated into Armenia, where he recovered the patrimony of his family, and was cordially received by those who had favoured his father. Pursuing his success, he penetrated into Shirvan, he took and sacked Shah Machee, the capital of the province, by the plunder of which he largely increased the numbers and hopes of his army. Elvan Beg had now expelled Morad, and was busied in punishing some of the principal citizens of Tauris, the capital of the kingdom, for having taken up arms in favour of his brother, when Ismael suddenly approaching the city, took it without opposition. Elvan, deprived of other support, formed an alliance with his brother, but in his progress to form a junction with the army of Morad, he was vigorously attacked by Ismael, and slam in battle; the conqueror marched without delay against Morad, who was encamped at Babylon, and compelled
Mahometan? had at this period, been long conversant in Greek letters.
him to fly into the Arabian desert :* he-rose without a competitor to the throne of Persia.f
Is Ma El is perhaps the first prince, who at once conquered a spacious kingdom and the religious prejudices of its people. Nor does it appear that any of those violent commotions were excited, which usually mark the progress of ecclesiastical reformation. The system of Hyder and Ismael was founded on the position, that Mahomet had given his daughter Fatima to Ali, as a mark of the greatest a flection, and bequeathed to him the succession of the khaliphat. But, that in defiance of this sacred testament, Abubucker, one of the associated friends of Mahomet, setting aside the claims of Ali, had assumed the powers of govern-, ment, which at his death, were also forcibly held in a consequent administration by Omar and Osman. But, that the injuries of Ali, having ultimately roused the divine interposition, he became the ruler of the Mussulmans. + This 'doctrine being unanimously received, Ismael ordained, that
* Where he was cut off by domestic treachery.
f Ismael's accession happened about the year 1508.
I In commemoration of the four first successors of Mahomet, who were also his confidential associates, and by their enthusiastic courage, had been his grand instruments in aggrandizing the khaliphat, the general body of Mahometans, except the Persians, are often termed Char Yaree, or those of the four friends. They are likewise called Soonis, an Arabic word, signifying the followers of the right path.
as the three first khaliphs were usurpers and sacrilegious violators of the last mandate of their prophet, their memory should, at the five stated times of prayer, be reprobated with every ex-v pression of contumely, and the severest vengeance of God denounced against them. He also inserted, at the conclusion of the Mahometan creed, that Ali, is the friend or the beloved of God, and directed that he and his posterity should be distinguished by the appellation of imaums, or holy men.* In contradistinction to the Soonis, who in their prayers cross'the hands on the lower part of the breast, the Schiahs drop their arms in straight lines; and as the Soonis, at certain periods of the prayer, press their forehead on the ground or a carpet, the sectaries of Ali lay on the spot which the head reaches, a small tile of white clay, impressed with characters sacred to the memory of Ali.
* The real number consists of eleven persons, to which a twelfth, supposed yet to come, has been added; their names are Ali, Hussinand Husseyn, his sons, Zyne-ul-Abedein, Mahomet liaukur, Jaffier Sadue, Mousa Kazim, Ali Mousa Besa, Mahomet Tuckee, Ali Nughee, Hussin Anscany and Mahomet Mhedy. The titles bestowed usually on Ali are, Ameerul-Momenein, Mortis Ali and Hyder. This last denomination, signifying a lion, is particularly given to Ali, when his military exploits are rehearsed. But when the profoundest respect is axpressed for his memory, he is entitled Ameer^ulMomenein, or lord of the faithful
Vol. Ii. * L
Some classes of the Schiahs believe that AK was an incarnation of the deity, who perceiving, they say, the mission which had been delegated dn Mahomet to be incomplete, assumed the person of this khaliph, for the purpose of fixing the Moslem faith and power on a firmer basis. The Sc"hrahs have imbibed strong religious prejudices, tfre more inflamed with the 2eal of devotion, and consequently less tolerant to the other sects than the Soonis. In Persia they do not permit a Sooni to eat at their board, and in common language, without provocation or heat of temper, they call him an infidel. But in what light, dear sir, will you view a numerous and a civilized people, who have produced writings that Would exalt the name of the most polished nations, yet in solemn deliberate expression, imprecate God's wrath five times a day, on the souls and ashes of three men who never did them an injury, and who, in their day, advanced the empire of Mahomet to a high pitch of glory and power. Not appeased with uttering the keenest reproaches against the memory of these khaliphs, they pour a torrent of abuse on every branch of their families, male and female, lower even than the seventh generation. I have seen their imagination tortured with inventing terms of reproach on these men and their posterity, and commit ver* bally every act of lewdness with their wives,